It’s Weber Shandwick’s 15th anniversary this year, and in celebration, 15 of our colleagues from offices across Weber’s entire global network were given the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to journey to another office in a different part of the world, all expenses paid. While there, they would spend a week experiencing the people, sights, sounds and work from that office.
Surabi Shetty, a technology Account Manager from our office in Bangalore, India, was one of the lucky winners. And we just so happened to be the lucky folks who got to host her and show her around the Emerald City for a week!
Now, it isn’t every day you get to meet a marketing/technology expert from India. So naturally, we took the opportunity to pick her brain a little.
Surabi Shetty: Seattle is absolutely beautiful. Despite being known for its rainy weather, it was surprisingly pleasant when I got here, and it stayed the same during my entire stay. The people in Seattle were really warm and nice too, right from my chatty cab driver to my doorman at the hotel.
WS: I read that Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India. Is that accurate?
S: Yes, once known as the green city, Bangalore is now considered the IT hub of India, known for its startup-type culture. New companies are growing every day, and people are coming from other countries and from all over India to take part. This is good for the city, we have seen a lot of developments in infrastructure and much better restaurants. On the downside, this has resulted in bad roads and traffic.
WS: I also read that Bangalore is the pub capital, as well as the rock/metal capital, of India?
S: Yes, yes, absolutely yes. The pub culture especially in Bangalore is very popular — there are usually two or three pubs on every street and a lot of breweries.
WS: You studied telecommunications engineering. How did you end up in public relations?
S: I think it was fate! Right after university, I thought PR would be more fun. And it has been! Most of the tech-focused journalists are based in Bangalore. And because I handle the technology division in the Bangalore office, my degree helps me understand the technology better.
WS: I doubt I’ll make it to Bangalore anytime soon. What’s the office there like?
S: Our office has around 40 people and has a very similar culture to yours here in Seattle. Everyone sits in the open, there are no cubicles, and everyone is very approachable at all times. One of the fun parts of the Bangalore office is that we have Friday beer bashes every week. Our office gets together and talks about the key campaigns we have been working on in the past week, and then we have food, beer and wine and we play games. We also have a foosball table in our office.
(Editor’s note: That is one more foosball table than we have. Just saying.)
S: The team in Seattle was really warm and nice. I had a super packed schedule, which included learning best practices across teams, understanding their work culture, sightseeing, and eating the most amazing food.
My hosts here made sure that I visited all the Seattle hotspots and gave me a whirlwind experience of the entire city in just 5 short days. One of the most amazing and surprising experiences for me had to be visiting Pike Place market and witnessing the fish throwing firsthand. Another experience I will never forget is dining on top of the Space Needle with a magnificent view of the entire city! Also, a first for me was going to Safeco Field (ed. note: on opening night!) to watch my first baseball game. Experiencing the exhilarating atmosphere inside the stadium with my colleagues was truly amazing.
WS: Outside of work, what do you do for fun?
S: I watch a lot of movies. I love caramel popcorn and the total experience – the popcorn, soda and movie – so it doesn’t really matter what movie I am watching. I also enjoy baking, especially cupcakes. I love to experiment and my favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip.
WS: If you weren’t working at Weber Shandwick, what would you do?
S: I would probably be a baker and open my own patisserie by the beach somewhere.
WS: What are your favorite things about working for Weber Shandwick?
S: I love the culture. We are truly global and work across markets as #onewebershandwick.
WS: Is there anything you will bring back to Bangalore with you?
S: Yes — apart from everything I’ve learned, I’ll be bringing back the chocolate-covered cherries from Pike Place.